§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Baroness Hooper rose to move, That the order laid before the House on 7th April be approved. [18th Report from the Joint Committee].
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this order I invite your Lordships to bring to an end the valuation lists relating to non-domestic property, which are now 14 years out of date. The result will be a fairer distribution of the business rate burden which is overdue. I commend the order to your Lordships.
§ Moved, That the order laid before the House on 7th April be approved. [18th Report from the Joint Committee.]—(Baroness Hooper.)
§ Lord Dean of Beswick
My Lords, first, let me say that it becomes almost a regular confrontation—perhaps not a confrontation—with the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, and myself facing each other across the Dispatch Box.
I think I am right in saying that this is the final piece of legislation that this Parliament will deal with. I remember being the last Whip to speak in another place at the end of business before the last general election and I did not return on that occasion. I think I shall be doing so on this occasion.
We naturally accept this order, but there may well be difficulties if the Government are returned and they intend to carry out their proposal that the abolition of rates will also be imposed in England and Wales, as it soon will be in Scotland. What we are doing today will be a more permanent feature rather than a gradual elimination.
Having said that, I again thank the noble Baroness for the courteous way in which she has dealt with the order, as she does with all our business, and I resume my seat.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that we always keep an eye on what is going on in Scotland, but I am most grateful to him for his remarks and for his support of this order.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.